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Different ways of conceptualising Darwinian evolution

Much of the confusion surrounding evolution arises because advocates claim that the ‘whole’ evolutionary account is so simple or self-evident that one must be “ignorant, stupid or insane” to not accept it.This often quoted remark is from Dawkins’ New York Times review of Johanson and Edey’s "Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution." Richard Dawkins, "Put Your Money on Evolution,"... While Darwin’s basic insight of adaptation by descent with modification is indeed beautifully simple, a complete account of biological history in evolutionary terms will need to synthesize the data and insights from all the sub-disciplines into a coherent whole. Finding a representative picture for this complex history is not easy. Importantly, even the operation of the basic mechanism of natural selection can be conceptualised in significantly different ways. The three main options are as follows.

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Different ways of conceptualising Darwinian evolution

[1] Does Evolution ‘do the work of a friend’ for the Christian Religion?
Setting the scene - why focus on providence?
[2] Supposed challenges from the evolutionary sciences to theology
Intellectually fulfilled atheists?
A challenge to human uniqueness and status?
A challenge to purpose in creation?
A threat to the veracity of scripture?
Evolution ‘explains away’ theology?
A challenge to Christian morality?
The challenges in wider context - Darwin as a scapegoat?
[3] The current state of the evolutionary sciences
Evolution as chance and necessity
Evolution as an algorithm
Evolution as movement within a ‘fitness landscape’
Ongoing debates: contingency versus convergence
Ongoing debates: what are the key causal factors in biological history?
Ongoing debates: the environment as the principle cause?
Ongoing debates: convergence as the principle cause?
Ongoing debates: ‘Universal biology’ as the principle cause?
The importance of moving from evolution as abstraction to particular history
Ongoing debates: directionality and progress
Ongoing debates: the origin of life
Different levels and kinds of selection?
[4] Responses from theology
Evolution, probabilities and providence
Responses from contemporary theologians
Holmes Rolston III
Keith Ward
John Haught
Arthur Peacocke
An increased role for general providence?
Theology of Creation in the light of evolution: three scenarios
[5] Concluding remarks


Adrian Wyard
Adrian M Wyard MSt

See also:

The Relation of Science & Religion
Purpose and Design
The Argument From Design
The Anthropic Principle
Charles Darwin
DNA Double-Helix